Monday, November 1, 2010

Luang Prabang

Our first major stop in Laos was Luang Prabang, the final destination for the slow boat trip and a great starting point for exploring Laos. Despite being one of the larger cities in Laos, Luang Prabang is still a pretty small city, with a couple main streets to see and some scenic views along the Mekong River. There is a lot of French influence in the city due to the colonial days, but there are also many Buddhist temples. Since Laos is still under pretty tight control of the government, everything closes down at 11:30pm in Luang Prabang and throughout the country. However, Laos is best for its unspoiled nature instead of its nightlife, so full nights of sleep were probably in our best interest anyway.

Main Street in Luang Prabang by Day

 And By Night

 Buddhist Temple


Another Temple

Monks' Quarters

One of the main draws near Luang Prabang is the Kuang Si Falls about an hour or so outside of town. Utilizing the primary form of transportation in Southeast Asia, namely a tuk tuk or some variation thereof, we headed out to the waterfalls for a day. There are several cascades of waterfalls at Kuang Si and you can go swimming in some of the deeper pools or take a swing on the rope swing. The water was so clean and was a perfect green-blue color. When we were standing around in the water, we were treated to the surprise of having little fish nibble at our feet. Those fish are actually used all over Southeast Asia as a kind of foot massage. People put their feet into tanks full of these fish and let the fish feast on all the dead skin and other impurities festering on their feet. We got the real deal in these waterfalls and didn't have to pay a dime for a massage, leaving us one step ahead of those suckers who paid a whole $4 in town.

Rural Road to Kuang Si Falls

 Waterfall Cascades

 More Cascades

Kuang Si Falls

 Wes on Rope Swing

 Phil on Rope Swing


That night, we hiked up to a Buddhist temple on Phousi Hill in the center of the town for the sunset. As a high point in the city with a view over the Mekong River and the jungle and hills in the distance, Phousi Hill has some of the best sunset views that we saw on our trip. I always take too many pictures for sunsets and can never sort out which ones are the best, so here are a few that I painstakingly narrowed down from all the pictures Phil and I took.

Wes on Path up Phousi Hill

 Buddhas Guiding our Way

Double Rainbow!!

Mr. Philip Dawsey

 Humidity 1000, Wes 0

Sunset and the Mekong River

The Painted Sky

Sunset Reflected on Mekong 

Big Sky

One of the cool things in Luang Prabang is the night market. I've been to nearly a billion night markets during my time in China and have become bored of all the typical counterfeit clothing and miscellaneous junk sold at most night markets. However, the one in Luang Prabang is really unique and has a lot of handicrafts made by local Laos people. There is also a side alley with some great street food, where we partook of barbecued meat, noodles, and delicious fruit shakes.

Wes Negotiating the Purchase of Some Wares

 Food Alley and Wes Bald Spot

 Chowing Down on Some Chicken

 Grilled Fish (My Favorite)

Throughout all of Laos, one of the main things we ate was sandwiches, which might seem strange being in Asia. However, due to the French colonial influence, there were sandwich stalls everywhere selling baguettes and crepes that were pretty good. Another great thing in Laos was the fruit smoothies that were made from some of the freshest fruit you could possibly eat. With the price being anywhere from fifty cents to a dollar for one of the fruit shakes, we were drinking them pretty much with every meal.

Laotian Baguette

That wraps up our stay in Luang Prabang. For more pictures, see picasa: